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- Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci - 60/159 -


arsenic, sublimate, realgar, tartar, orpiment, verdegris.

643.

Pitch four ounces virgin wax, four ounces incense, two ounces oil of roses one ounce.

644.

Four ounces virgin wax, four ounces Greek pitch, two ounces incense, one ounce oil of roses, first melt the wax and oil then the Greek pitch then the other things in powder.

645.

Very thin glass may be cut with scissors and when placed over inlaid work of bone, gilt, or stained of other colours you can saw it through together with the bone and then put it together and it will retain a lustre that will not be scratched nor worn away by rubbing with the hand.

646.

TO DILUTE WHITE WINE AND MAKE IT PURPLE.

Powder gall nuts and let this stand 8 days in the white wine; and in the same way dissolve vitriol in water, and let the water stand and settle very clear, and the wine likewise, each by itself, and strain them well; and when you dilute the white wine with the water the wine will become red.

647.

Put marcasite into aqua fortis and if it turns green, know that it has copper in it. Take it out with saltpetre and soft soap.

648.

A white horse may have the spots removed with the Spanish haematite or with aqua fortis or with ... Removes the black hair on a white horse with the singeing iron. Force him to the ground.

649.

FIRE.

If you want to make a fire which will set a hall in a blaze without injury do this: first perfume the hall with a dense smoke of incense or some other odoriferous substance: It is a good trick to play. Or boil ten pounds of brandy to evaporate, but see that the hall is completely closed and throw up some powdered varnish among the fumes and this powder will be supported by the smoke; then go into the room suddenly with a lighted torch and at once it will be in a blaze.

650.

FIRE.

Take away that yellow surface which covers oranges and distill them in an alembic, until the distillation may be said to be perfect.

FIRE.

Close a room tightly and have a brasier of brass or iron with fire in it and sprinkle on it two pints of aqua vitae, a little at a time, so that it may be converted into smoke. Then make some one come in with a light and suddenly you will see the room in a blaze like a flash of lightning, and it will do no harm to any one.

VII.

PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY OF THE ART OF PAINTING.

The relation of art and nature (651. 652).

651.

What is fair in men, passes away, but not so in art.

652.

HE WHO DESPISES PAINTING LOVES NEITHER PHILOSOPHY NOR NATURE.

If you condemn painting, which is the only imitator of all visible works of nature, you will certainly despise a subtle invention which brings philosophy and subtle speculation to the consideration of the nature of all forms--seas and plains, trees, animals, plants and flowers--which are surrounded by shade and light. And this is true knowledge and the legitimate issue of nature; for painting is born of nature--or, to speak more correctly, we will say it is the grandchild of nature; for all visible things are produced by nature, and these her children have given birth to painting. Hence we may justly call it the grandchild of nature and related to God.

Painting is superior to poetry (653. 654).

653.

THAT PAINTING SURPASSES ALL HUMAN WORKS BY THE SUBTLE CONSIDERATIONS BELONGING TO IT.

The eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the principal means by which the central sense can most completely and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature; and the ear is the second, which acquires dignity by hearing of the things the eye has seen. If you, historians, or poets, or mathematicians had not seen things with your eyes you could not report of them in writing. And if you, 0 poet, tell a story with your pen, the painter with his brush can tell it more easily, with simpler completeness and less tedious to be understood. And if you call painting dumb poetry, the painter may call poetry blind painting. Now which is the worse defect? to be blind or dumb? Though the poet is as free as the painter in the invention of his fictions they are not so satisfactory to men as paintings; for, though poetry is able to describe forms, actions and places in words, the painter deals with the actual similitude of the forms, in order to represent them. Now tell me which is the nearer to the actual man: the name of man or the image of the man. The name of man differs in different countries, but his form is never changed but by death.

654.

And if the poet gratifies the sense by means of the ear, the painter does so by the eye--the worthier sense; but I will say no more of this but that, if a good painter represents the fury of a battle, and if a poet describes one, and they are both together put before the public, you will see where most of the spectators will stop, to which they will pay most attention, on which they will bestow most praise, and which will satisfy them best. Undoubtedly painting being by a long way the more intelligible and beautiful, will please most. Write up the name of God [Christ] in some spot and setup His image opposite and you will see which will be most reverenced. Painting comprehends in itself all the forms of nature, while you have nothing but words, which are not universal as form is, and if you have the effects of the representation, we have the representation of the effects. Take a poet who describes the beauty of a lady to her lover and a painter who represents her and you will see to which nature guides the enamoured critic. Certainly the proof should be allowed to rest on the verdict of experience. You have ranked painting among the mechanical arts but, in truth, if painters were as apt at praising their own works in writing as you are, it would not lie under the stigma of so base a name. If you call it mechanical because it is, in the first place, manual, and that it is the hand which produces what is to be found in the imagination, you too writers, who set down manually with the pen what is devised in your mind. And if you say it is mechanical because it is done for money, who falls into this error--if error it can be called--more than you? If you lecture in the schools do you not go to whoever pays you most? Do you do any work without pay? Still, I do not say this as blaming such views, for every form of labour looks for its reward. And if a poet should say: "I will invent a fiction with a great purpose," the painter can do the same, as Apelles painted Calumny. If you were to say that poetry is more eternal, I say the works of a coppersmith are more eternal still, for time preserves them longer than your works or ours; nevertheless they have not much imagination [29]. And a picture, if painted on copper with enamel colours may be yet more permanent. We, by our arts may be called the grandsons of God. If poetry deals with moral philosophy, painting deals with natural philosophy. Poetry describes the action of the mind, painting considers what the mind may effect by the motions [of the body]. If poetry can terrify people by hideous fictions, painting can do as much by depicting the same things in action. Supposing that a poet applies himself to represent beauty, ferocity, or a base, a foul or a monstrous thing, as against a painter, he may in his ways bring forth a variety of forms; but will the painter not satisfy more? are there not pictures to be seen, so like the actual things, that they deceive men and animals?

Painting is superior to sculpture (655. 656).

655.

THAT SCULPTURE IS LESS INTELLECTUAL THAN PAINTING, AND LACKS MANY CHARACTERISTICS OF NATURE.

I myself, having exercised myself no less in sculpture than in painting and doing both one and the other in the same degree, it seems to me that I can, without invidiousness, pronounce an opinion as to which of the two is of the greatest merit and difficulty and perfection. In the first place sculpture requires a certain light, that is from above, a picture carries everywhere with it its own light and shade. Thus sculpture owes its importance to light and shade, and the sculptor is aided in this by the nature, of the relief which is inherent in it, while the painter whose art expresses the accidental aspects of nature, places his effects in the spots where nature must necessarily produce them. The sculptor cannot diversify his work by the various natural colours of objects; painting is not defective in any particular. The sculptor when he uses perspective cannot make it in any way appear true; that of the painter can appear like a hundred miles beyond the picture itself. Their works have no aerial perspective whatever, they cannot represent transparent bodies, they cannot represent luminous bodies, nor reflected lights, nor lustrous bodies--as mirrors and the like polished surfaces, nor mists, nor dark skies, nor an infinite number of things which need not be told for fear of tedium. As regards the power of resisting time, though they have this resistance [Footnote 19: From what is here said as to painting on copper it is very evident that Leonardo was not acquainted with the method of painting in oil on thin copper plates, introduced by the Flemish painters of


Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci - 60/159

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